When you buy essential oils they come in a nice small, tightly sealed, dark glass bottle. This is important to think about with the following key guidelines for storage –
- Keep in a cool, dark and dry place away from direct sunlight
- Keep in a dark glass bottle – brown/amber is the best colour and dark blue is also fine
- Ensure bottles are tightly stoppered
- Always replace caps/tops and put the correct caps onto the correct bottles
- Keep bottles out of reach of children and animals
Good places to store them are in a wooden box, cupboard, drawers of a dressing table, bedside table, or bathroom cabinet.
I keep mine in special boxes or travel wallets on my bookcase, desk or cupboard away from direct sunlight.
Blending & Diluting
Always dilute essential oils in a carrier solution (vegetable/carrier oils, milk, salt or vodka for example). Please do not apply to the skin direct.
Recommended dilution quantities –
- 1% essential oil dilution = 1 drop per 5ml or 2 drops per 10ml etc (recommended for elderly, frail, children under 4 y.o. and during pregnancy)
- 2% essential oil dilution = 2 drops per 5ml or 4 drops per 10ml etc (normal fit, strong, healthy, well individuals)
- 3% essential oil dilution = 3 drops per 5ml or 6 drops per 10ml etc (for local area application only i.e. application to a specific part / small area of the body only)
Essential oils can also damage work surfaces, wooden tables, furniture and clothing
- Cover surfaces with a cloth or kitchen roll to avoid ruining any surfaces as a result of spillage.
- Use a tray when blending solutions
- I would advise that you always use an apron and rubber gloves to avoid direct contact with the skin and any possible damage to clothing.
Shelf Life – this varies
A mix that you have blended consisting of essential oils and carrier solution will last for as long as the carrier solution will last – usually 4-6 months
- Please note that water does not last very long (a few days).
- If you are using water for body sprays, you can add some alcohol (e.g. vodka) which extends the shelf life significantly i.e. for up to 2-3 years.
- Perfume blends using 100% alcohol based solution diluted with oils will last several years.
- If you are using a water based solution, please shake each time before using. Essential oils are not soluble in water.
- Label your blends immediately – it’s important to remember the ingredients
- Use the more hazardous essential oils in low dilutions. (See below for some examples)
- High blood pressure – avoid rosemary, hyssop, and thyme
- Epilepsy – avoid rosemary, fennel, sage, hyssop
- Sensitivities and allergies – hayfever, asthma. Err on the side of caution – recommend 1% dilution only to start with (please see below for details)
- Pregnancy – please seek advice because there are many oils contraindicated for pregnancy. 1% dilution is recommended only (please see below for details)
- Elderly, Frail and very young children – under 4 years old – 1% dilution only (please see below for details)
- Phototoxicity / Photosensitivity – oils that that contain furocoumarins – chemicals that make the skin more sensitive to sunlight. Sunburn will occur if exposed to sunlight. This group is largely restricted to citrus oils – Lemon, Lime, Bergamot, Orange, Mandarin, and Tangerine. Grapefruit is a citrus oil that is “not” phototoxic and therefore not included in this list.
NB – You can buy Bergamot FCF which is not phototoxic because it has had the chemical removed that makes Bergamot phototoxic – Bergaptene.
Irritation is usually damage to the skin, redness and/or a burning sensation followed by inflammation as a result of using essential oils. This will arise very quickly and the severity will vary greatly.
- In the event that irritation does occur, immediately apply vegetable oil to the affected area and remove with a cloth or paper towel (clean ones). Repeat 3-6 times.
- The oils most likely to cause irritation are oils like Lemongrass, Dwarf Pine, Origanum, Red Thyme (contain carvacol and thymol), Cinnamon, Citrus & Pine oils. These oil contain high levels of phenols and Aldehydes.
- Always dilute essential oils including when using them in a bath – milk, alcohol, carrier oil or bath salts are best.
Prepare a dilution of one drop of essential oil in a teaspoon of carrier/vegetable oil, apply to inner forearm, and cover with a waterproof plaster for 24-48 hours. If there is not reaction, then you should be fine to use the oil following the safety advice. For a more precise answer though, repeat twice more. If sensitisation occurs, discontinue immediately, avoid use in the future.
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